Kotti for… queers

Our guide to four parallel universes around Berlin's most loved/hated square.

Image for Kotti for... queers
Möbel Olfe. Photo by Jason Harrell

Forget Schöneberg and its yesteryear men-only meat market. You belong here, where the scene attracts not just boys but girls and every gender in between and beyond… while a cursory glance at Grindr shows there’s still plenty of dick to go around.

Image for Kotti for... queers
Illustration by Agate Sasiuk

Your evening starts at the neighbourhood’s first homo hotspot: Möbel Olfe (Reichenberger Str. 177). Since Richard Stein opened it in 2002 as the successor to his legendary Cafe Anal, it’s been the number-one stop for locals and in-the-know queers from across the city, with a no-frills Kneipe feel and glass windows that are perfect for people watching both inside and out. It’s early on Saturday, which means you can actually find a seat (unlike on super-gay, super-packed Thursday nights) and there are plenty of guys here (unlike Tuesday’s lady-oriented Mädchendisco). At the bar, you encounter a tall, strapping Norwegian in town for the weekend… promising, until he asks you where he can go to dance with some hot girls. Ugh, didn’t he see the “Homo Bar” sign on the window?

Undeterred, you take a trip around the corner to Roses (Oranienstr. 187), a cramped micro-bar that looks and feels like being trapped inside a furry, hot pink lava lamp. You shout your drink order over the unending 1980s playlist and are relieved to find you’re in the good graces of formidable bartender Gabrielle (who simply ignores the orders of folks she doesn’t like). Roses is a total hook-up bar, especially for horny tourists who don’t know where else to go, so you look around for some prey. But pickings are slim, and anyway you’re being cock-blocked by a gaggle of straight girls who want you to be their new BFF.

So, still filled with energy, you head next door to SO36 (Oranienstr. 190). Since the 1990’s, the venerated punk club has been putting on some of Berlin’s best queer parties. Tonight it’s Gayhane, a gay Oriental music night started by local Turkish lesbian legend Ipek. You bounce around to some Middle Eastern beats while eyeballing a German dude you’ve already seen around Kotti twice this week – at the monthly release party for queer mag Siegessäule at Monarch; and right here at Esso for one of Pansy’s drag shows. Grindr confirms he’s into you, and the rest of your night is best left unwritten.

You wake up late and decide not to kick your paramour out of bed, but the hangover needs to go. Time for the weekly €9 Sunday brunch buffet (and more booze) at Möbel Olfe satellite Südblock (Admiralstr. 1-2). Among Turkish mothers, construction workers and local artists, you catch up with your queer scene buddies, some of whom have barely left this very spot since Friday night’s Boo Hoo party started.

With so much going on, you almost forget that you’ve got to head back to SO36 this afternoon. There’s an organisational meeting for the KCSDyour big gay day, the alternative to the way-too-mainstream CSD at the Brandenburg Gate. Every year on the last Saturday of June (this year it’s June 29) Kotti and Oranienstraße become a huge daytime explosion of lefty queers, taking over the streets, demonstrating and of course partying. The cause may be great, but you also can’t wait to dust off those heels that only look good in daylight.